Are pizzas, like prophets, without honor only in their hometown? Founded in Portland in 1996, the Blind Onion Pizza & Pub has grown into a mini-chain with locations in Washington and Nevada. While plenty of Portlanders surely like the funky pizzeria’s doughy pies, there’s only one location and it’s not often put among the top in town. The Reno area, meanwhile, has four shops.
On the other side of the Columbia, Vancouver has greeted Blind Onion with palm fronds. The pizzeria has won the hotly contested “best pizza” category in The Columbian’s reader’s poll for three consecutive years.
“I have never had better pizza than the Blind Onion. I’m big on the crust... and I can tell you... they have THE best!!” one reader wrote.
“Absolutely the most delicious crust, marinara and ingredients,” wrote another.
Meanwhile, readers of the Portland metro area’s equally respected daily, The Oregonian, picked Apizza Scholls because, well, how could you not?
Sure, Columbian readers also named Starbucks “best coffee” and Olive Garden “best pasta”—but are Portlanders perhaps ignoring a gem?
After visiting the very similar Portland and Vancouver locations, I can say, no, Blind Onion is not excellent on the level of Apizza Scholls or Ken’s Artisan Pizza or even Lonesome’s Pizza. But it certainly scratches a certain itch, one Portlanders making a day trip to take advantage of Washington’s new pot laws might find they have. This is perfect stoner pizza—big and bready, with plenty of grease and cheese. The atmosphere reinforces that sensibility: At the Hollywood District location on Northeast Broadway, they didn’t bother to take down the sign for the General’s Pizza shop that preceded the Blind Onion.
A distinctive crust is the secret to Blind Onion’s success. It’s basically baguette dough, thick and soft with a twisty outer ring. The sauce is a little piquant, though not exactly spicy, and salty mozzarella is applied generously. So are the toppings on the “General’s” ($8.80-$25.50), which include pepperoni, salami, sausage, olives, mushrooms, onions and peppers. Pizza purists might complain it’s more casserole than pizza, but I genuinely dug it.
The rest of a meal at the Vancouver shop wasn’t up to the same standard. An appetizer of garlic chips ($6) was basically inedible, with heaps of bitter green garlic remaining raw under a thick blanket of cheese. I soldiered through three small pieces, much to my later regret. A Greek salad with green olives, artichoke hearts, red onion and feta cheese on pale lettuce was large but mostly flavorless. The pesto club sandwich used a bright white “pesto-alfredo” sauce that bore a striking resemblance to mayonnaise and had no detectable basil. But, hey, serves me right for getting a sandwich there. As Columbian readers tell it, the best sandwiches in town are at Subway.
- Order this: The General’s ($17.10 for a 12-inch pie).
- Best deal: A slice and a soda at lunch ($4 for pepperoni).
- I’ll pass: Garlic chips ($6).
EAT: The Blind Onion, 3345 NE Broadway, 284-2825, and 2900 E Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, 360-750-7490. blindonion.com. Open daily for lunch and dinner. $-$$.